REE 325 • MODERN POLISH HISTORY AND CULTURE
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
Coursework will consist of lectures, reading, and discussion in English on the political and cultural history of Poland and the Polish people throughout the twentieth century and continuing through to the state of the country today. After briefly summarizing the history of Poland as background, this course picks up the story in World War I, which ends with the establishment of a Polish state after 123 years of partition by Russia, Prussia, and Austro-Hungary. We then proceed chronologically through the twentieth century from two perspectives. The first considers the political history of the Polish people, including the evolution of its form of government, structure of its society, and regional/global politics. This complex and rapidly-evolving story includes not only two periods of independence, but also the anarchy and confusion following World War I, the massive destruction of World War II and the accompanying Holocaust, the repression of the Communist period, and finally the rise, suppression, and rebirth of Solidarity, a truly unique political and social movement.
Four writing assignments: 50% In-class examinations (3): 40% Class participation: 10%
A course packet of readings will be made available for purchase. This will include excerpts from political/social histories of Poland in the 20th century and literary works. These sample the decadence of Young Poland (Wyspianski), the fantastic realism of Schulz, literature of occupation and the Holocaust during World War II (Herling-Grudzinski, Bialoszewski, Boroswki, Szpilman), prose and film representations of the Communist period (both contemporaneous and subsequent), and of course poetry, which earned world-wide recognition with two Nobel prizes in 16 years (Milosz and Szymborska). Several documentary videos on Polish history and culture, as well as feature films, will be viewed during the course of the semester.